For decades now, the success of Microsoft was rooted in the mutually beneficial partners – Asus, HP and Dell. Microsoft makes the OS and relies on its OEM partners to produce thousands of devices. It’s a symbiotic relationship. And even with previous Surface devices Microsoft has made it very clear that its main purpose is not to compete with its partners but rather to experiment, make new categories and then pass its experiences and learnings to them. Microsoft has spent millions of dollars on its research and development, promotion of devices, many of which have failed spectacularly. The Lumia series and the non-pro Surface 3 with the atom processor also didn’t work. Though some of the devices did sell, the main goal was not commercial success but advancement of its Windows eco-system.
Coming to the limitations of the surface laptop, it brings zero value to manufacturing partners, does not make a new category and has absolutely zero features. In fact the reason it stands out is because of the things it does not do. By default one has a complete striped down version of Windows called Windows 10 S which does not allow users to install any software except ones in the store. It doesn’t even have a command prompt and does not have as many ports as other laptops. That just might be what consumers are looking for.
Let’s get to the technical bit, Microsoft released this focusing on students. The base model comes with 4GB RAM, which is perfect for the university student, especially with no Chrome, light web browsing, editing PDF documents, typing up word documents or anything productivity-based. If one wants to do anything RAM intensive one cannot upgrade. In terms of USB ports, there is only a single USB-A and no USB-C, the thought process behind that is that currently, their target demographic of students predominantly use USB-A devices like pendrives, mice and external hard drives. But this is a device that should last at least five years, and in five years USB-C would be everywhere so I think Microsoft should have released this laptop with USB-C. Even the prototype model had one. The pricing is a bit high even for the base model ($999), though it’s mid and high-tier models are priced in line with its competitors, fortunately one can get a ten per cent student discount. The display is perfect with a 100 per cent gamete and it’s calibrated at the factory for color accuracy, but it has a 3×2 aspect ratio which is meant for tablets, a 16×9 would have sufficed for consistency, more importantly though it supports the surface pen and writing on a vertical screen is not enjoyable, I feel that this product wasn’t designed for pen input.
To conclude, let’s see the brighter aspect, the laptop runs on PCI-E storage so it will run fast, way faster than the ones on the Surface 3, the CPU selection was good, the high end runs on an I7 with an iris plus graphics, glad they went with it instead of the common 7500U (why not Nvidia?) the battery is promising, claiming 14 or 15 hours while running Windows 10 S.
Over all it’s a decent laptop for the minor audience, who just need a productive laptop.